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Quality is a concern in higher education

We have some islands of excellence like IITs, IIMs, NIITs, IIScs: expert

APSCHE Chairman L. Venugopala Reddy (centre) having a word with NAAC former director V.S. Prasad at a workshop on quality in higher education in Vijayawada on Thursday. Vice-Chancellor V. Venkaiah is seen.— Photo: V. RAJU
APSCHE Chairman L. Venugopala Reddy (centre) having a word with NAAC former director V.S. Prasad at a workshop on quality in higher education in Vijayawada on Thursday. Vice-Chancellor V. Venkaiah is seen.— Photo: V. RAJU
At the two-day workshop jointly organised by Krishna University and APSCHE on ‘Assessment and accreditation a tool to enhance quality and excellence in higher education’ held at KVSR Siddhartha College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, the focus was on quality in higher education.

Delivering a lecture, the former National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) Director V.S. Prasad said that any discussion on quality in higher education in India is invariably leading to the concern of absence of a place in a first 100 or 200 or 300 or 500 world class universities in world rankings of universities by different agencies.
“We have some islands of excellence like IITs, IIMs, NIITs, IIScs and some reputed colleges. But will this elite system contribute to the up-gradation of the ‘sea of mediocrity’? These institutions of excellence may be providing education to about 5 to 10 per cent of students in higher education. The rest are studying in institutions which are part of the ‘sea of mediocrity’. How to reduce the breadth and depth of ‘sea of mediocrity’ is the serious concern of higher education, today,” he said.
Fund allocation
Critical about the fund allocation for higher education, he pointed out that over 90 per cent of the funds were being allocated to the premier 10 per cent of the institution, which is upsetting the balance.
Talking about the vision of universities, he said, “A university should be a place for providing a student with an opportunity for all-round and well-proportioned education for effective living and citizenship, in addition to preparation for a calling. This vision is missing in the present day system of higher education.”
He said that there was a mismatch between qualifications and competencies in the higher education. “This is true in professional programmes also. The challenge is to make private education a ‘public good’. Missionary colleges, institutions of Tata Trust and other philanthropic institutions such as Azim Premji University are some examples of ‘Public good’ role model of private provision.”
On Rashtriya Ucchatar Shiksha Abhiyan, popularly known as RUSA, the former NAAC Director said that the MHRD programme had been included in the 12{+t}{+h}plan for strengthening State level universities and colleges with more funding and many governance reforms.
“The emphasis of RUSA is on professional management of higher education at institutional level with performance based funding and support. RUSA emphasizes the de-politicisation of higher education governance. It is a refreshing idea at a time when many politicians see academic institutions as power centres and as valuable sources of patronage. How effectively these ideas will be translated into action is to be seen,” noted Professor V.S. Prasad

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